Waco and the authorities

What’s he deal with the Branch Davidian raid in 1993?

I hope this doesn’t devolve into a debate; I’m posting it here in the hope that somebody’s got a good enough command of the situation to explain it all.

When it first hit the news, I didn’t really have any kind of opinion about the government’s handling of the situation. A person with whom I was doing business at the time had a son who was one of the BATF agents killed in the first day shootout, so my initial feelings were mainly ones of sympathy for him.

While I’m not in the business of enforcing gun laws (IIRC that’s how it all got started), information that’s appeared in the media since the incident sure seem to indicate that the government, at the least, handled it pretty poorly. Recently the use of incendiary tear gas grenades and the presence of US military have caused Janet Reno to proclaim the search is on for an appropriate outside investigator. From what I understand the use of the incendiary devices as acknowledged by the FBI had no bearing on the fire that consumed the Branch Davidian conflict. I guess the big deal there is that they denied using incendiaries for a long time.

I don’t know who owned the armored vehicles and helicopters, but the presence of members of the military’s Delta Force has made the news of late. The one statement I’ve seen from the government (Drudge Report ~3 days ago) was to the effect that involvement of the military was justified on the basis of the suspicion that the Branch Davidians were running a methamphetamine lab. Maybe so, but somewhere along the line I missed when drug enforcement became part of the military’s jurisdiction. Anyway, I don’t recall any speed lab turning up in the debris.

So I guess there are some political energies contributing to the fanning of the flames. The ever present VRWC is, of course, going to seize any opportunity to fry some Clintonistas and is getting a bit of oomph from their occasional allies, those who fear the New World Order. And the Justice Department is apparently going to at least partially oblige the seekers of government conspiracy and wrongdoing by obfuscating, etc.

It’s hard for me to really imagine some vast government conspiracy centering around 100 religious zealots on a ranch in central Texas, but it’s becoming equally hard to believe that the various voices of government have much of an interest in seeing that we get the facts. What’s really going on here?

I suspect anyone who says they REALLY knows what’s going on has their own agenda in this matter. There’s the Pro-gun side that wants to defend the citizen’s right to own full auto weaponry. There’s the Religious Right, who sees this as another step toward that slippery slope where the gumment makes their religion illegal. There’s the Anti-Clinton crowd, who mostly seems to want to impeach somebody for something or other. And the general conspiracy fans, who seem to feel that if any Federal agency is involved in any way, there’s a conspiracy.

And on the other side, there’s the BATF who really screwed the pooch, from not picking up Koresh when he was in town, to the tragic performance of the BATF swat team. It seems that everyone wants to have a swat team. And the FBI sitting on the report that “Yes, military style tear gas grenades were in fact used. I thought we told you that 6 years ago.”

Most of the physical evidence was destroyed in the fire. Nobody believes anyone’s version of what ‘really’ happened. Personally, I feel that Reno just wants to know what happened herownself. And I don’t think that incendiary style gas projectiles could cause an inferno to start 6 hours after they were fired in there. 6 minutes? Sure, but 6 hours?

Ranger Jeff
*The Idol of American Youth *

Someone once said words to the effect of “Never attribute to maliciousness what can be explained by stupidity”.
Never is this more true then when dealing with the government in general, and law enforcement in particular.
What happened in Waco is basicly what always happens when the government hears that a group of people are armed and intend to defy the government’s authority by force- the government goes berserk.

I think the really funny part of all this (if you can find a funny part to a situation where a number of people died) is the partisan nature of the outcry. The right wing is playing up how a government conspiracy headed by a Democratic administration was abusing its powers to enforce gun control by making unfounded claims about child abuse. But you know that if the Waco compound had been assaulted during when Bush was President, you’d have the left wing playing up how a government conspiracy headed by a Republican administration was abusing its power against a unpopular religious group by making unfounded claims about drug manufacturing.

Frontline, on PBS, did a special on Waco. Their take on it was that the tension between the negotiators (who felt that, with enough time, they could talk everyone out) and the tactical troops (who wanted to storm the place, and when they couldn’t, took to provocative acts like driving APCs around outside and over parked cars) prevented any sort of intelligent handling of the situation.

The negotiators where speaking to people inside right up until the end. But every advance they made was undercut by the “cowboys” on the swat team, who not only wanted to storm the place, but apparently actively prevented a negotiated settlement by not abiding by the negotiators terms when people were released and when top people inside the compound came out to meet the negotiators.

If you can find it, it’ll mesh perfectly with the stupidity hypothesis.

[[I think the really funny part of all this (if you can find a funny part to a situation where a number of people died) is the partisan nature of the outcry. The right wing is playing up how a government conspiracy headed by a Democratic administration was abusing its powers to enforce gun control by making unfounded claims about child abuse. But you know that if the Waco compound had been assaulted during when Bush was President, you’d have the left wing playing up how a government conspiracy headed by a Republican administration was abusing its power against a unpopular religious group by making unfounded claims about drug manufacturing.]] Mike King
You mean like with Randy Weaver? :wink:

Anyway, as for BATF picking Koresh up in town versus at the compound – weren’t they executing a search warrant for the place as well as (or instead of) an arrest warrant?

Although this question ostensibly deals with facts, the “facts” of this matter are widely disputed and subject to relentless subjective interpretation.

It is for this reason I send thee to Great Debates to continue under the auspices of my esteemed colleague, David B.

GQ Mod

Mike King: [[But you know that if the Waco
compound had been assaulted during when Bush was President, you’d have the left wing playing up how a government conspiracy headed by a Republican administration was abusing its power
against a unpopular religious group by making unfounded claims about drug manufacturing.]]

It all depends on whose ox is being gored. If anyone had any doubts, the past 6 1/2 years have put them to rest–the Democrats/Left are just as hypocritcal as the Republicans/Right.

As for Waco…now that we know the FBI has been lying about certain things, the question becomes what ELSE they may be lying about.

“Hello, I’m Diogenes. I’m looking for an honest man.”
“Welcome to the Clinton White House!”
“Er…never mind…”

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

A friend of mine, who recently moved up to the backwoods of Oregon and become a Y2K survivalist (!), loved to go on and on about how atrociously the initial raid by the BATF violated the poor, innocent Branch Davidians’ rights.

He points to the fact (or at least the presumed fact) that the ATF agents fired first. He also points very strongly to the “famous” news footage (which is so famous I don’t remember it) showing an ATF agent walking around on the roof of their compound getting shot through the roof. He says that a later investigation showed that none of the firearms in the Branch Davidians’ posession had enough oomph to fire through roof beams and kill somebody, but that the ATF agents’ rifles were powerful enough to do this, and that therefore the ATF agent on the roof was shot by one of his own comrades who must’ve panicked.

Of course, this same friend also just bought into one of those “pure trust” scams sold by National Trust Services, so I really can’t say for sure that he doesn’t have one or two screws loose. :wink: (See my article at www.netcom.com/~rogermw/nts.html for why these “Common Law Pure Trusts” are bogus.)

Tracer, I remember those videos, and even used to debate a woman who put one of 'em together (over on FidoNet). Well, “debate” is a bad term – she ranted, we pointed out the flaws in her claims, she threatened to sue, we laughed at her, she stalked off to rant elsewhere.

That said, the ATF did screw up the initial raid. I honestly don’t remember details any more, but there were so many things they could have (and should have) done differently, that it was ridiculous. That said, I think it comes down to the old maxim: Don’t ascribe to conspiracy that which can be more easily explained by stupidity.

***David B: {{I think it comes down to the old maxim: Don’t ascribe to conspiracy that which can be more easily explained by stupidity.}}

This is true, and I think it explains the events in Waco quite well. (There is also the factor that ATF has an unfortunate affinity for operating like the Gestapo, but this probably constitutes stupidity as well.)

On the other hand, I can easily believe there was a conspiracy to cover up the stupidity in order to limit the political fallout.

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

Regarding the agent shot on the roof -

First of all, the frame of a building does not constitute 100% of its area. That’s why it’s called a frame. In between the framing members is standard plywood and drywall.

Second, your standard .308 hunting rifle has a lot more oomph than the weapons the BATF typically uses (I think they were HK91’s or MP-5’s). A .308 is close to the standard 7.62mm cartridge used in large infantry battle rifles. Anyway, all of these guns will easily penetrate the wall of a typical frame building. For that matter, a .22 will do it, if the material is light enough.

Weapons used by the police for urban assault are typically chambered for 9mm pistol rounds or something similar, partly because it makes the weapons lighter and able to carry more rounds, and second precisely because you don’t want a bullet going through three houses and killing someone sleeping in their bed.

Third, if anyone with a functioning neuron watches the video it’s completely clear that the shots come from inside the building. The wood erupts outwards, and the wounds to the ATF agent are on the side of his body facing the house.

There are a lot of conspiracy nuts around, and God knows the government screwed up Waco big time, but you’d think even the dimmest conspiracy nut would drop that particular argument.

Rich wrote:

Yes, that I would go along with. But even then, not as much conspiracy as the conspiracy nuts believe there is. :slight_smile:

Firstly…concerning the armed man on the roof. If there was an armed man on MY roof and a platoon out in the yard I think my thought processes would suffer a bit. I dont think the situation would have been any more pleasant had he been permitted to enter in and shoot all the “dangerous” women and children.
Secondly: I saw a documentary on Showtime or some Pay channel about the whole thing.
For the longest I was like most of america. Halfway paying attention to the utter BS that was splattered inthe news. This particular documentary showed every bit of concrete footage and even some speculative pieces that werent too hard to figure out. It also followed the “hearing” or “trial” or whatever you want to call the little song and dance that seemed to implicate that the Fbi and BATF were just trigger happy barbarians looking to get a chance to raid something.

First thing I realized is that the folks in the surrounding townships had NO problems with the branch davidians. And that Koresh was not some despotic drug manufacturing antichrist baby raper. Maybe they were a little off but who is to say WHOSE religious beliefs are wrong. It was a commune and he was the elder so what…many places have been founded on religion and leadership. And Yes they had a stockpile of weapons. MOstly things you can get at any sporting goods store and to my knowledge only a few illegal automatic assault weapons. Big hairy deal

So far the possesion af a couple of guns is NO reason to delcare war on anyone. I live here in the south where any joe six pack could have two or three even ten automatic assault weapons and the only huff that goes down is the police confiscate them and maybe take him to jail.

SO lets not make the personal beliefs of these people material here. they could be worshipping Goofy for all i care.

This leaves us with the story itself:
Apparently it all started without warning. a helicopter appeared and just began firing down on the compund wounding two people. at this point Koresh started keeping a video journal explaining his side. a very intelligent and NOT crazy sounding man. A day or so after the helicopter incident he locked theplace up tight…and the ATF units showed up. There was a call from one of the field officers to Koresh…the first of many. IN that conversation the Officer denied that there were guns on the copter. Later he said something to the effect of “no i told you there were no MOUNTED guns on the copter but the troops inside have weapons yes”. Oh Im sorry what was i thinkning thats a whole lot better yes five or six armed men couldnt do NEARLY as much damage as one pilot nooo.
So this standoff goes on for a while. Calls and arguments are made back and forth. a few shots are fired. Some genius thinks htat storming the place would be a good idea. so A squad or two is sent to scout out the compund <proper military procedure> The Guy on the roof gets shot. Now you KNOW this doesnt sit well with the troops now hungry for blood.
Koresh makes a 911 call to stop the conflict as the troops are pulled back to regroup and allow the Shwarzkopf wannabe some time to plan his next devastating move. The 911 operator somehow got through to the field officer who respectively hung up on him.
later the local police arrived and were held in check. Police officers that talked to some of the troops got responses that amounted to “we are probably just going to kill em its quicker”
Next. a tank mounted battering ram was brought in and some smaller armored assault vehicle. <there is ACTUAL footage of most of what i have described here along with tapes of the phone conversations so if ther are any arguments get Cecil to find the name for you>
This is where it gets a little scary. Koresh said he wold send out people who didnt want to stay…the first group was a few adults. Who were systematically shot down while their hands were raised. There was next a carload of all the kis old enough to travel…they were spared. when the ram started poking holes in the compunds walls koresh told them the layout of the place and wraned them to leave the Nursery alone. It being a large palce there were many babies. The nursery was the First place Gassed with that shit. It was NOT tear gas and NOT incendiary…it was a NERVE gas which upon misture in great amounts with oxygen became a flammable substance…the NEXT snafu was the incedniary device which turned all the air inthe place into Fire. Imagine that…suddenly theres nothing to breathe and you cant run outside because you will be shot. There are a few more deatils but the only one left that stands out on my mind is the demolition of the main builing.
THe ram was used again this time to smash the joists and supports of th epper floors…i saw one of the corpses…it was burned beyond recognition and torn in half from having a fucking Roof fall on it. Oh yes there was hte debate of whether or not the ATF fired with medium artillery from the assualt vehicle which would ave been uncalled for under the cover of night. there was video at the hearing shot in infra red and intercepted by someone on the Grilling commitee before it could have been destroyed of this. It showed tracers…big ones moving toward the house…and hter was some other really conrete DAMNING proof of the blodlust of these monsters on there but youll have to watch the thing to see it.
SO…now we have the place in a smoking crater and then theres te JOKE of a hearing.
they played back the tapes of what was shown on tv. things i remember half watching as a highschool student. It makes it look like the Atf and the fbi are going to get their Due…i men i really thought we had some warriors left inthe positionsof power that would defend powerless people even IF they were weird. There were many senators and representatives there just grilling the hell out of the officers and all involved…and showing them proof of their folly. but when the time came to make a decision…they just agreed with the fbi on the claim that the Davidians SET THEIR OWN SHIT ON FIRE!! what an insult! And to think not much of america will really know what happened there. It was al some farce…some travesty-like JOke to make anyone beleive that justice as done…I know I did…and I regret it
For those interstedin this subject i DO recommend you find a way to view this very informative and very believeable documentary.

Man, I don’t know what “documentary” you saw, but you have this thing so screwed up I hardly know where to begin.

The main thing that shows how screwed up you got it is that you combined the ATF raid and the much later FBI raid into one. The battering ram was not brought in until after a looooong seige. The nerve gas thing sounds straight out of a conspiracy-monger, as does the bit about all the people coming out with their hands up being shot and the bit about the helicopter just showing up and shooting.

All in all, while you may have found the video believable, I think perhaps you should try to find out facts from a more reliable source…


Flammable nerve gas that makes it hard to breathe? Did you make that up, or did the people who made the pay-per-view documentary (?) make it up? Do you know what nerve gas is? Do you know what “incendiary” means?

You make it sound like mixing gas with oxygen is a rare occurence? If said “nerve gas” was to be used on the planet Earth, wouldn’t it always start a fire? What would be the point of a gas which attacked the nervous system and started fires? I guess the fire must be a backup religious-person-killing-effect, since this economy-brand nerve gas just makes it hard to breathe, instead of killing humans on contact like premium nerve gasses. (Last sentence intended satirically.)

As to Koresh being a “baby raper”, I don’t remember anyone accusing him of that. What they accused him of, was sex with teenagers. Illegal even for religious people, believe it or not.

I don’t really know why I’ve bothered to respond, since it sounds like you watched some Showtime action movie and thought it was a documentary.

*Since I haven’t gotten all the bitter satire out of my system, I think I’ll continue. *

So there was this documentary on Comedy Central or ESPN, where they showed Clinton ordering the Army to fire on the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge. (Remember that the Weaver family consists entirely of little girls and elderly civil rights workers.) Clinton says to this Army guy, “Kill them all cause I like blood ‘n’ Gore!” and the Army guy says, “Okay!”

Trouble is, Army radios don’t work with artillery, so the guy had to call the artillery with his credit card. Then the navy fired at the main building in the Waco Ridge Compound, a building known as General Belgrano, with an Exocet missile which cost more than the building. The missile was filled with ketchup gas, which was invented to kill innocent people in the Falkland Islands, which Clinton invaded when he was Governor of England.

Now, ketchup gas doesn’t kill you right away. First, it makes you see visions of horrible things like carnage, corruption, and Bradley 2000. So of course the little newborn civil rights Christian girls started crying. Then all the Federal Governments anti-crying missiles started homing in on them

… Okay, I feel better

Boris B said:

While “baby raper” may be going a bit far, and just about everything else in his post is wacked-out, the FBI did tell Janet Reno that he was abusing children, etc. – something they really had little to no evidence of. However, they knew that this was a hot-button issue with her (indeed, accusations of child sexual abuse was how she became famous, even though most or all of those accusations were probably untrue, but that’s another thread) and by alleging that Koresh was doing this, knew she’d give the okay to raid the compound.

Okay, I guess I though statutory rape was the “child abuse” the FBI had accused Koresh of. I didn’t realize they were two separate allegations, i.e. sleeping with girls when they came of age (before legal majority, IIRC) vs. slapping toddlers upside the head?

It sounds like the documentary the poster was thinking about was, “Waco: The Rules of Engagement”, which was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary. The problem is that the poster got almost all the details wrong, and/or mixed up the timeline.

The seige started with an attempted raid by the BATF. It’s clear that they did this raid as a publicity stunt, because they broke security and intentionally notified the media in advance. The media in turn notified Koresh, or was waiting for them. The dispute about who shot first had a lot to do with the ATF claiming that no shots were fired from a helicopter during the raid, then later admitting that perhaps some were. There were also a number of bullet holes in a door that the ATF claim were caused by people firing out. The door mysteriously disappeared from the evidence room later on when someone tried to fact-check the ATF’s story.

The business about the ‘nerve gas’ had to do with the type of tear gas the ATF used, which some experts claimed could actually kill a small child. Also, some people have theorized that a large quanitity of the gas in an enclosed space mixed with air could become highly flammable, which is one reason why the fire spread so rapidly after it started.